In addition to the key-value store get and set semantics, datastore provides an interface to retrieve multiple records at a time through the use of queries. The datastore Query model gleans a common set of operations performed when querying. To avoid pasting here years of database research, let’s summarize the operations datastore supports.

Query Operations:

  • namespace - scope the query, usually by object type
  • filters - select a subset of values by applying constraints
  • orders - sort the results by applying sort conditions
  • limit - impose a numeric limit on the number of results
  • offset - skip a number of results (for efficient pagination)

datastore combines these operations into a simple Query class that allows applications to define their constraints in a simple, generic, and pythonic way without introducing datastore specific calls, languages, etc.

Of course, different datastores provide relational query support across a wide spectrum, from full support in traditional databases to none at all in key-value stores. Datastore aims to provide a common, simple interface for the sake of application evolution over time and keeping large code bases free of tool-specific code. It would be ridiculous to claim to support high-performance queries on architectures that obviously do not. Instead, datastore provides the interface, ideally translating queries to their native form (e.g. into SQL for MySQL or a MongoDB query).

However, on the wrong datastore, queries can potentially incur the high cost of performing the aforemantioned query operations on the data set directly in python. It is the client’s responsibility to select the right tool for the job: pick a data storage solution that fits the application’s needs now, and wrap it with a datastore implementation. Some applications, particularly in early development stages, can afford to incurr the cost of queries on non-relational databases (e.g. using a FileSystemDatastore and not worry about a database at all). When it comes time to switch the tool for performance, updating the application code can be as simple as swapping the datastore in one place, not all over the application code base. This gain in engineering time, both at initial development and during later iterations, can significantly offest the cost of the layer of abstraction.

tl;dr: queries are supported across datastores. They are very cheap on top of relational databases, and very expensive otherwise. Pick the right tool for the job!

Query classes






Note on generators: naive datastore queries use generators to delay performing work (such as filtering). Thus, no up-front cost is paid, but rather the cost comes at iteration. This is particularly useful in that even when working on large datasets, the naive query implementation can work as generators do not require having loading the entire dataset in memory upfront. When I say they can work, I do not imply quickly, just that they can work at all.

The crucial exception, of course, is orders. If any order is placed on a query, the naive query implementation loses the benefit of delaying the work. That is because one cannot properly sort an entire dataset using a generator (sure, a generator could still be used to avoid paying the cost of sorting the entire dataset upfront, but that could still require putting the entire dataset in memory in the worst case).

Specific datastore implementations should keep this in mind, performing as much work as possible in low-level, storage engine specific ways, and do the rest using generators. In particular, always try to push ordering into the underlying layer.




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